Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening

March 19, 2014 Memoir, non-fiction 8

18079547Title: Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening
Author: Carol Wall
Source: from publisher for review
Rating: ★★★★☆
Review Summary: Although the author deals with big issues, she does so in a relatable and optimistic way which made this book a very easy and enjoyable read.

Since a tragic event in her childhood, Carol has been a bit afraid of gardening. Following a cancer scare, she became more timid about life as well. A chance encounter with her neighbor’s gardener, Mister Giles Owita, leads to a deep and surprising friendship. As they get to know each other, Mister Owita ends up “transforming not only Carol’s yard, but her life.” (quote from goodreads)

Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening is a great book for someone who doesn’t usually read non-fiction. In fact, I keep having to remind myself that it really is non-fiction. It mimics closely the happy sort of books I’ve read lately, like Lost Lake and The Wedding Bees, in which people come together and help each other out. The biggest difference is that Mister Owita had a simpler and more believable plot. The writing was beautiful and vividly descriptive. I loved that the author included Mister Owita’s letters to her, because their writing was equally beautiful. The letters also helped give me a feel for Mister Owita’s personality and I found them all the more interesting because they were real.

This book isn’t a memoir about someone doing something extreme, but I liked that about it. Carol Wall’s life is ordinary enough, compared to my daily life, to be very relatable. At the same time, this wasn’t a boring or substanceless book. The author deals with some of the toughest issues a person can face, from racism to illness to death in the family. She also deals with happier big issues like hope and happiness and facing her fears. It helps that Carol is a great story teller. She drew me in and kept me reading curiously, impatient to find out more about Mister Owita and his wife. As is often the case with non-fiction, I have more patience with author’s keeping secrets when it makes sense because of how the story really happened. I think my only complaint is that the book did feel a bit light despite the weighty issues discussed. In a way though, that is also a positive. The author made it easy to contemplate big, difficult questions and really has written the perfect non-fiction for fiction readers. If you like stories about people helping other people, I’d suggest picking this up.


8 Responses to “Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening”

    • DoingDewey

      Oh, I’m sure if you like gardening this is even better! I haven’t gotten into gardening myself, but I still enjoyed reading about it 🙂

  1. Rosa @ Bookish Findings

    I’ve never heard of this book before. But your review convinced me – it seems a great book to read. And I love reading true stories about the simple lives of ordinary people 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      Wonderful! When I’ve read a book I love, it always makes me happy to hear that other people are thinking of picking it up 🙂

  2. Heather

    I think I’m going to break down and get it. Every review I read makes me desperate to read it right now. This is just the perfect time of year for this kind of book!

    • DoingDewey

      It’s true! A book about gardening would be great in spring weather or to tide you over until the weather realizes it’s spring 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      Me too! When I was younger, I disliked reading books about things which could even hypothetically happen in real life, preferring fantasy and sci fi. However, since getting back into reading after undergrad, I’ve enjoyed books that about people who are similar enough to me that I can relate to them, as well as books realistic books about people with very different lives to let me experience something new vicariously 🙂

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